August 12: History, lots and lots of history, oh and two gardens

Today was a very full day, even though I drove less than 100 miles for the entire day. I started my day at Grand Pré, which means Great Meadow in English. It’s one of the first sites of the expulsion of the Acadians, back in the mid-18th century. It’s a UN World Heritage Site as well as a National Historic Site, and the museum there tells the story of the Acadians.

Before today, my entire knowledge of the Acadians is that a bunch of them wound up in Louisiana and became the Cajuns. Now I know a lot more of the story, and it was moving and sad. I’m not sure what all to say about it without putting my foot into it, except that I kept thinking about what’s going on with the Syrians today.

The other two things were that I’d had no idea that the Acadians reclaimed lands from the Bay of Fundy in similar ways that the Dutch have in their country. It was fascinating to learn about how they’d done it over a period of over a hundred years, and so long ago. And then there was the Longfellow/Evangeline connection – yes, she was fictional, but apparently his poem brought a lot of attention to what had happened to the Acadians, and so she’s become something of a cultural symbol.

The gardens surrounding the memorial church, etc., were lovely, too.

Anyway, I learned a lot at Grand Pré, some of which I was not expecting to learn.

The Evangeline statue and the memorial church at Grand Pre.
The Evangeline statue and the memorial church at Grand Pre.
Part of the gardens at Grand Pre.
Part of the gardens at Grand Pre.
The Longfellow bust at Grand Pre.
The Longfellow bust at Grand Pre.
Looking out over the polders/reclaimed land at Grand Pre, complete with the two red Adirondack chairs that seem to exist at every viewpoint in the Canadian national parks.
Looking out over the polders/reclaimed land at Grand Pre, complete with the two red Adirondack chairs that seem to exist at every viewpoint in the Canadian national parks.  ETA:  I am informed that in Canada, those chairs are called Muskoka chairs.
A view back from the lookout towards the memorial church at Grand Pre.
A view back from the lookout towards the memorial church at Grand Pre.

And so it was on to Annapolis Royal.

I drove past this today, something else I'd never known about before.
I drove past this today, something else I’d never known about before.

Annapolis Royal is about fifty more miles down the road, where I visited two National Historic Sites, Port Royal, which was supposed to be a living history site about a French fort, but which, according to a fellow visitor who went on about it for quite a while, was no longer what it was because Stephen Harper had eviscerated the National Parks. The site was still there, but the re-enactors are apparently no more. It was still really interesting, though.

The reconstructed fort at Port Royal.
The reconstructed fort at Port Royal.
Inside Port Royal, which was sort of the Canadian French version of Old Bent's Fort.
Inside Port Royal, which was sort of the Canadian French version of Bent’s Old Fort.
Those window panes are made of animal hide.
Those window panes are made of animal hide.
My first turned leaves of the trip. Holy cow.
My first turned leaves of the trip. Holy cow.

Then there were the historic gardens in Annapolis Royal, which were really lovely. No Longwood, granted, but then I expect not many gardens could stand up to Longwood. These were smaller, and have been there since the 1930s, and were absolutely filled with glorious flowers.

The perennial borders at the Historic Gardens.
The perennial borders at the Historic Gardens.
Unlabeled (I wish I knew what variety these were!) lilies at the Historic Gardens.
Unlabeled (I wish I knew what variety these were!) oriental lilies at the Historic Gardens.
A reconstructed Acadian house at the Historic Gardens.
A reconstructed Acadian house at the Historic Gardens.

My last stop of the day was at Fort Anne, right on the river in Annapolis Royal. It’s the oldest National Historic Site in Canada (so now I’ve visited their first national park, Banff, last summer, and their first national historic site today), but what struck me as funny was that they were refurbishing the officers’ quarters/museum in the fort, and at the moment it’s all covered with modern-day waterproofing plastic film.

The tyvek-wrapped officers' quarters at Fort Anne.
The tyvek-wrapped officers’ quarters at Fort Anne.
The powder magazine at Fort Anne, built in 1708 and the only entirely original building at the fort.
The powder magazine at Fort Anne, built in 1708 and the only entirely original building at the fort.
The view from Fort Anne, down the Annapolis River.
The view from Fort Anne, down the Annapolis River.

Fort Anne is a classic on-the-waterfront star fort, just like Fort McHenry in Baltimore, although it’s considerably older and there aren’t as many buildings. The redoubts definitely looked familiar, though. The museum had an absolutely gorgeous needlepoint tapestry inside. I never did find a date when it was done, but apparently it’s fairly recent. It’s spectacular, too.

Half of the dropdead gorgeous needlepoint tapestry at Fort Anne.
Half of the dropdead gorgeous needlepoint tapestry at Fort Anne.

By the time I left Fort Anne, I was pretty tired, so I drove the last 25 miles down to Digby, where I’m ensconced in a very nice hostel, with wifi and showers. I will continue on around the coast tomorrow, and probably wind up in Halifax in two or three days.

I can’t believe it’s been eleven weeks today since I left home. Criminy.